Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy died on Tuesday morning. He was 79.
The veteran Congress leader had been undergoing treatment for throat cancer in Bengaluru since February. Since 2019, the politician had been undergoing medical treatment at different hospitals including Berlin’s Charite Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram’s NIMS Medicity and Bengaluru’s Health Care Global Enterprises.
His son, Chandy Oommen, announced the news of his death in a Facebook post on Tuesday morning.
The Congress leader had first become a legislator in the Kerala Assembly at the age of 27 representing the Puthuppally constituency in the Kottayam district. He was elected 12 times from the constituency, and became Kerala’s longest-serving MLA.
Over a career spanning five decades, Chandy served as Kerala’s chief minister for two terms from 2004 to 2006 and 2011 to 2016.
The veteran Congress leader had been accused of sexual harassment by Saritha Nair, the prime accused person in the alleged solar scam that came to light in 2013. However, in December, the Central Bureau of Investigation told a court that there was no evidence to back the allegations.
The Kerala Congress on Tuesday said that the party will miss Chandy’s leadership and energy.
“One of the most popular and dynamic leaders of Kerala, Chandy sir was loved across generations and sections of the population,” the state unit of the national party said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described Chandy as an “exemplary grassroots Congress leader” and said he will be remembered for his services to the people of Kerala.
Party president Mallikarjun Kharge said that the former chief minister was a “staunch Congress man who stood tall as a leader of the masses”.
“His unwavering commitment and visionary leadership left an indelible mark on Kerala’s progress and the nation’s political landscape,” Kharge added. “He will be remembered for his dedication and service to the people. Heartfelt condolences to the family and supporters.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India has lost a “humble and dedicated leader who devoted his life to public service and worked towards the progress of Kerala”.
“I recall my various interactions with him, particularly when we both served as chief ministers of our respective states, and later when I moved to Delhi,” Modi tweeted. “My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this sorrowful hour. May his soul rest in peace.”
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that Chandy was a capable administrator and a person who was closely involved in people’s lives.
“We were elected to the Legislative Assembly in the same year,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said, reported ANI. “It was at the same stage that we came to the political fore through student life. We led public life at the same time and it is extremely difficult to bid him farewell.”
Kerala Congress chief K Sudhakaran said: “Today, I am deeply saddened by the loss of a legend, Oommen Chandy. He touched the lives of countless individuals, and his legacy will forever resonate within our souls.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described Chandy as an statesman of our times. “The veteran Congress leader had played vital role in Kerala ‘s development and democratisation of public life,” she tweeted. “I offer my sincere condolences to the bereaved family members and the innumerable followers of the capable and popular leader.”